To The Moon has that vintage video game feel whilst retaining a modern, polished and mature impression. Comparably to Minecraft, Lone Survivor and Home, To The Moon boasts pixelated graphics and includes a beautifully quaint and a hauntingly charming soundtrack.
It’s hard to talk about the story without spoiling anything. The game’s Wikipedia page has an entire section dedicated to the ending. But don’t look as it’ll spoil the whole game. Seriously, don’t look. The storyline is an exciting and fresh twist within the gaming world. However, its originality is muted somewhat when you transgress the gaming medium, and pick out a handful of sci-fi movie titles that follow similar premises.
To The Moon focuses on Dr Rosalene and Dr Watts, who work for a company that fulfills the final wishes of dying individuals using a form of technology that allows you to enter people’s real memories and replace them with artificial ones. Surprisingly enough, things don’t quite go according to plan with their latest patient, and this where the story starts to develop its teeth. The relationship between Rosalene and Watts is where To The Moon shines brightest. They keep a light-hearted tempo within the narrative that keeps the game from getting lost within its often dark themes that include love, mental illness and death. While the story focuses on events of the past, the two main characters, and you of course, are seeing them for the first time. How they interact with and comment on the events that unfold is juxtaposed perfectly with the events themselves. You are left feeling that the writers could easily have had you weeping at your monitor or guffawing on the floor. It feels like they exercise moderation rather than hold back, which is something you seldom see in gaming.
Unfortunately, this is where To The Moon falls down the actual gameplay. To progress through the game, players must collect objects to establish memory links. By collecting certain objects, you unlock a memento that allows you to travel back to another important memory. However, these sections are painfully simple, and the controls feel equally inaccurate, with your characters lazily following mouse clicks, drunkenly bumping into almost every obstacle in the game. When trying to direct your character, it feels like your actions are helpful suggestions instead of commands. It almost feels like To The Moon didn’t want to be a game, but didn’t have much choice. “Here’s the gameplay.” it seems to say, “Now hurry up and get it over with so we can get on with the story.” You must also complete puzzles to progress through each memory, but these are also effortless and can be solved in a few seconds and as many clicks.
Nevertheless, rather than condemning To The Moon for its failings as a game, I feel myself willing it on, like the nerd that’s in last place on Sports Day. Sure, gameplay isn’t its forte, but it has so much else going for it, that it almost doesn’t matter. Large play throughs will get boring, but reading a good book for too long can give you a headache, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.
Is It Worth Your Money?
If you view To The Moon as more of a project than a game; an interactive story rather than a playable adventure, then it’ll be an experience you won’t soon forget. But if that’s not your bag, which is perfectly understandable, I can see why you’d want to give it a miss However, I encourage everyone to either buy this game, or get someone else to and play through it together. Its truly beautiful story and its enchanting music might even have you questioning your definitions of a game. And for $9.99, doesn’t that all seem worth it?